- The secret is compassionate parenting
- The joy of compassionate parenting
As a parent, I tend to view my life as a two-phase thing. BV and V. Before Vidur and Vidur. Such is the transformation a baby brings. I fondly recall the day when I discovered I was pregnant. I remember literally bursting with joy and we couldn’t wait to tell my Mom. We rushed to the nearest phone (those were non-cellphone days) and called her with the exciting news. Of course, she was totally delighted and we began counting the days for her to join us.
I couldn’t wait to get her flight booking done. Soon after, we brought her to live with us and together we looked forward to the arrival of our angel. I still remember how much we laughed over Sury having to take an Air India flight while Mom and I followed by Jet Airways. It was my Mom’s first-ever trip by air!
Anyway, fast forward a few months and Vidur chose a Sunday to step into this world – and our lives changed forever at the sight of this serene little guy whose hands always seemed to hold the “cincihna mudra” (understanding) or “jnana mudra” (knowledge) or “Dharmachakra Mudra” (teaching) most of the time, fascinating us all. (More about Mudras here). We had people coming in to see him and wondered what was up. Turns out they were Sai Baba devotees as his birthday is on the same day, November 23.
Vidur was the most delightful baby and the neighbors would complain that they never heard him cry. He brought infinite happiness into our lives. Ah, happy memories.
I enjoy being Vidur’s Mom. I think he has helped me grow as an individual with his simple and wonderful logic. I think I’ve learned most of my parenting skills from him. Most notably, compassionate parenting. We are all softies of varying degrees in our house and we are fine with it. We believe that love conquers all.
The secret is compassionate parenting
It is amazing how different the world looks when we let go of negative thinking or defensive responses when things don’t go as we would like. I have learned to love the surprises that parenting brings. Most of all, I appreciate my son, because, to repeat a cliche, it is just as challenging to bring up good parents, as good children!
Did I have a role model? Of course, yes. My Mom. The first thing I learned from her was communication. Rather than say “Don’t do this….” I say “Please do this..” and appreciate it when he finishes it. We don’t shout in our house and it is not because we don’t feel like. It is just that we choose not to. We prefer to control ourselves and handle things calmly when we’ve simmered down. This has helped us respect each others’ feelings and trust one another.
When it comes right down to brass tacks, at the end of the day, all we want is a happy child in a happy family.
Of course, we hug as often as we can and say “I love you” every day and we laugh together. A lot.
In my latest post over at Parentous, I chose to write about compassionate parenting because it is easy to preach what I practice.
The joy of compassionate parenting
In general, being compassionate helps us to be happier individuals. Parenting is no different. Showing compassion promotes better relationships with our children, as we enjoy them and steer them in the right direction and of course – learn from them! There are many specific benefits in the form of cultivating cooperative children, building their self-esteem and confidence while lowering their tendency towards negative behavior.
Best of all, children with compassionate parents grow up to be emotionally strong and happy. Now if that is not a great outcome, I don’t know what is.
Compassion is not about allowing children to do whatever they want. It is not about letting them get away with anything they do. What it does mean is getting deeper into the child’s behavior to understand what prompted a certain behavior. If the child is throwing a tantrum, it is about finding out why and enabling her to get a grip on her behavior so that she can control her impulses.
Naturally, one might argue that this is not the most perfect way to parent – but then, there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Perfection is highly subjective. I certainly make mistakes in the things I say or do when it comes to my son – and of course, the 20/20 hindsight happens much later. Happily, children are quite immune to the mistakes we make, because they love their parents unconditionally.
What I have discovered by practicing compassion
I have learned that anything that is said in a positive way brings on the desired outcome. That does not mean it is wrong to get angry, irritated, annoyed or mad. After all, even parents are human!
The important thing is the way we express ourselves. In our house, we do not shout. It is a conscious decision we remind ourselves of, whenever we feel like raising our voices. Oh yes, we feel like shouting, but we don’t. We calm down, control ourselves and practice being calm.
Over time, this has become a habit – and the excellent side benefit is less stress. The best part is, on the rare occasions we have to pull up our son (boys will be boys), he takes it in a positive spirit. On the other hand, if we are nasty or say things in a negative way, there is resistance. And we’re careful not to do that since we do not want him to learn that might is right.
Some tips to practice compassion
We all know how vital this is. It is all part of constant communication with our children to know them, bond with them, and cherish them.
Whenever my son comes with a problem, we talk it through, exploring possibilities and invariably, he also comes up with a solution. Just expressing himself lightens the load quite a bit, allowing him to see it from the outside. I try my best to ask questions that will enable him to reach an acceptable way to resolve the situation. Also, by the time we’ve finished, he has also found ways to tackle it better next time.
Oh, sending them to school is a given. When he was young, we tried to buy toys that help learn something or develop a skill. One of his most favorite pastimes was jigsaw puzzles, besides music, sketching and general knowledge books. We stay in tune with his interests. In the last three years, he has been leaning more and more towards science and math, while taking out the time to enjoy his other hobbies.
We make it a point to spend half an hour on the terrace every evening or during our evening walk to share our day – both good and bad. It sets a positive tone for the rest of the evening and ensures going to bed peacefully.
I am blessed with a tactile and affectionate child and I am very grateful for the wonderful relationship we share. Happy children are usually affectionate. Happiness stems from being loved. Compassion facilitates this process.
Being a loving parent is not difficult. I like to compare it to smiling. When we smile, people involuntarily smile back. Well, most people do. When we’re kind and loving, our children find us easier to approach.